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    Fort Wainwright helicopter crew performs two rescues in one weekend

    Fort Wainwright helicopter crew performs two rescues in one weekend

    Photo By Eve Baker | A UH-60 Blackhawk medevac helicopter from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd...... read more read more

    FAIRBANKS, AK, UNITED STATES

    01.28.2022

    Story by Eve Baker 

    Fort Wainwright Public Affairs Office

    FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – This past weekend, a helicopter medevac crew from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, performed two rescues of hunting parties, saving a total of six lives.

    On Saturday, at 7:40 p.m., Capt. Caleb Stockdale, a pilot with Charlie Company, was notified of a rescue mission. He and his crew, consisting of co-pilot Chief Warrant Officer 2 Liam McFadden, crew chief Spc. Devon Mahaffey, and flight paramedic Sgt. Alexandar Zakreski, reported from home to the hangar to prepare.

    By about 8:45 p.m, the crew was up in the air and headed toward the Twelvemile Summit area to respond to a report from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center out of Anchorage about a stranded hunting party. A group of three hunters on snowmachines became stranded in deep snow after one of the machines broke down, and the other two could not progress further due to the conditions.

    Stockdale’s crew spotted a small survival fire the hunters started from a mile out, and he was able to land approximately a thousand feet down the mountain. In order to reach the men, Zakreski had to snowshoe uphill through snow that was about five to six feet deep, according to Stockdale.

    “It was a steep hill,” Stockdale said. “Even with snowshoes, it was still waist-deep on him [Zakreski].”

    Zakreski reached the men and guided them back down to the helicopter. The crew then flew the men to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where they were evaluated and released.

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    The second rescue took place “almost 24 hours to the minute later, in the exact same location,” Stockdale said.

    This time, however, the soldiers got to rescue fellow service members, one retired and two active duty members of the Air Force. The party had also gone out for a one-day hunting trip on snowmachines and become stranded in the deep snow of the Twelvemile Summit area.

    The members of the party had been in contact via their satellite communication devices with the Alaska State Troopers, and Trooper Garrett Stephens accompanied the helicopter crew on the flight.

    According to the incident report, one member of the party had begun to exhibit signs of hypothermia, though the others did not show signs of injury.

    After the helicopter landed, Stephens and Zakreski reached the group on foot and immediately began to treat the individual for hypothermia. Once they all returned to the helicopter, further treatment and warming were provided for all members of the party, and the group was flown to Bassett Army Community Hospital on Fort Wainwright, where they were evaluated and released.

    Co-pilot McFaddden later reflected on the two rescues, stating that “it was a good experience. It was nice to be able to actually do what we train for.”

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    While both hunting parties had a means of signaling for help, with the first group using personal locator beacons and the second group using satellite communication devices, “Neither group took out survival gear,” Stockdale said.

    “If you’re in an area without cell service, you should always take survival gear, even if you’re only going an hour outside of town,” he continued.

    Stockdale recommends at a minimum that parties carry fire-starting equipment, including a lighter or waterproof matches and a back-up manual method like a flint and steel, along with some kindling. They should also bring food, something to melt water in, a small tent or tarp, an emergency blanket; and a lightweight shovel to dig a hole in the snow for shelter.

    “If you dig a small space the right way, your body heat can warm it up 20 to 30 degrees,” Stockdale stated.

    The two weekend rescues were Stockdale’s fifth and sixth during his time at Fort Wainwright.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 01.28.2022
    Date Posted: 01.28.2022 13:38
    Story ID: 413622
    Location: FAIRBANKS, AK, US 

    Web Views: 556
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN